TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 05: Robert Lester #37 of the Alabama Crimson Tide hits Spencer Ware #11 of the LSU Tigers during the first quarter of the game at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 5, 2011 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Robert Lester isn't worried about the inexperience in the University of Alabama secondary, but if the defensive backs surrounding him have any concerns, the fifth-year senior is there for them. Lester enters his final season at the Capstone as the most experienced player UA has in the secondary, but he's been where the others are now. After his first two years on campus, Lester had little more than a redshirt and some special teams action to show for his career. Now, however, he's entering his third year as a starter. Tuscaloosa News Robert Lester has the most experience of anyone in the UA secondary. "Since I'm one of the only ones who came back - DeMarcus (Milliner) came back - I just want everybody to be on the same page," Lester said. "I'm going to do whatever it takes, that if they don't know what's going on, look back at me, and I'll give you the call."
When last seen, Kevin Norwood was seen making a spectacular leaping catch over the "Honey Badger," star LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu. So does Norwood have a framed photo of that catch? "Aw, man, yeah. I have a bunch of copies," he said after Saturday's practice. "They're all over Facebook."
Holtz noted that he has coached against Alabama coach Nick Saban. They never met when Holtz was at Notre Dame and Saban was at Michigan State, but they met twice when Holtz was at South Carolina and Saban was at LSU. "I have the utmost respect for him as a person, as a coach," Holtz said. "I love being around him, but he's a greedy sucker. Some people get you first-and-10, second-and-12, third-and-9, and they're content at fourth-and-5. "Not Nick. He wants it first-and-10, second-and-12, third-and-14, fourth-and-19. He wants to move you back. He doesn't want to give you a yard. You can see it the way they practice out there. They just don't want you to make a yard. Some people don't want you to make a first down. Not Nick."
Don't'a Hightower's departure creates an opening at middle linebacker, but Alabama seems to be in good shape at both inside linebacker spots. Nico Johnson and C.J. Mosley shared the weak inside linebacker (Will) spot last season. Trey Depriest showed potential as a freshman last fall. None of those three is expected to sit much next fall. But who are behind them? Tana Patrick will be a fourth-year junior next fall. He has had a quiet career so far, but he might get a chance as a backup. Freshman Dillon Lee is an early enrollee to keep an eye on. At the very least he could contribute on special teams next fall. He looks too good to be redshirted.
After all, that’s how they were taught by their predecessors. Wide receiver Kevin Norwood recalled watching Julio Jones and Marquis Maze work. "When I first got here, just watching those guys go out there and practice hard everyday basically made me want to go out there and practice hard everyday," Norwood said after Saturday’s practice. "They basically showed me what Coach Saban wanted in order to play." Norwood said receivers Amari Cooper and Chris Black – both true freshman who started school in January after graduating early from high school – "look really good. They just have to learn the plays and stuff like that."
"You wouldn't believe how many Big 12 logos we have up around this campus because we were one of the original members," Byrne said. If there's a tinge of regret in Byrne's voice, it's because he felt invested in the Big 12. "I regret that it is coming to an end," he said. "On the other hand, looking at what's going on nationally, I think it was a brilliant move to go to the Southeastern Conference, which screams stability. No one is trying to get out of the Southeastern Conference. That's not true of the current conference we're in."
Ole Miss, trailing Alabama by one run in the top of the eighth inning, hit a deep fly ball with the bases loaded and one out. The ball was catchable as Taylor Dugas drifted back to the descending white spec on the warning track in center field. Dugas caught the ball and fired it home. But by the time it reached Booth, two runs had scored and the Rebels took the lead for good. The Rebels tacked on three more runs to beat the Tide, 8-4. The loss drops Alabama to 9-15 overall and 1-5 in the SEC.
First, Mario Williams. Now, Mark Anderson. The Buffalo Bills weren’t kidding when suggesting how much they wanted to improve the pass rush this offseason. Making their second significant free-agent splash in less than a week, the Bills on Wednesday signed Anderson to a four-year contract potentially worth $27 million. It includes $8 million guaranteed. The defensive end is a sixth-year player who had 10 sacks with the New England Patriots last season.
Nick Saban High School, anyone? Yes, of the approximately 60 suggestions received from the public, Nick Saban High is on the list. It was among the many intriguing and thought-provoking ideas submitted, but ultimately not chosen.